Counterfeit Passports Selling Cheaper on the Darknet, but Buyer Beware

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Many passports have been uncovered on the Darknet marketplace for sale at a cheaper price. Recently, a Greek passport was identified among the various countries travel documents being sold on the Darknet for just 5 Euros.

According to a darknet markets investigation by the “ET”, there was a detection of encryption pages about Greek passports selling for as low as 0.0024 BTC. This was equivalent to less than 5 Euros at the time of discovery. According to the investigation, the Greek passports are in stock and anyone can buy them.

The Darknet market is known for breaking new ground in crime and the purchasing of counterfeit passports is not an unfamiliar trade for many vendors. This has been the subject of economic activity of fraudsters who claim that they possess travel documents at extremely lower prices than the traditional distribution channels.

Many experts have expressed their own challenges in tracing the source of these crimes. Many times also there is no way to regulate or control the illicit activity because all parties involved are anonymous. As a result, there is a strengthening war against the sales of fake passports electronically and maintaining it to a large extent becomes a headache to authorities.

Many questions have been raised on the basis whether passports being sold by sellers on the Darknet can be used throughout the world to travel to different countries. People also question if such sales are a way for the sellers operating on the Darknet to trick users to levy money into their bitcoin wallets without delivering the merchandise in the end. That is, it is a good way to con people out of money quickly. Illegal weapons are popularly sold on the darknet, but also people’s information, like health care documentation and tax information.

But the taste of the moment involves passports. In the UK fake British passports are also being sold on the dark web. These are convincing enough to pass through airport security but sell for a premium which is a little more than 460 GBP. These passports are as expensive as they are because they include security features that replicate the RFID chip and biometric data that airports check.

Another darknet markets report recently announced that undercover reporters were able to purchase these counterfeit passports that seemed real. The vendor confirmed that such a passport would work as a genuine form of identification and permit travel around the world.

At the Darknet marketplace Nucleus, one seller, when asked about the authenticity of the passports replied that “We are selling a real passport to you. It works like any other passport from the authority.”  He added that they “are the only market vendors capable of offering valuable counterfeits…without limitations for names, birth place, or other data appearing on the actual passport.” He concluded that his passports were as good as “new.”

The Darknet prices for passports vary wildly. Some websites sell passports for the 460 GBP (650 EUR), while other vendors ask for 35,000 USD to guarantee that the passport will already be logged into the database system.

Another seller also claimed to offer similar services in Canada and Germany. A buyer can be given a real German passport with the database for 8,500 USD.

In 2015, the prices for stolen passports sold on 13 Darknet websites were analyzed by reporters, and it was found that the priciest passports were Danish passports, at a seemingly inexpensive 4,000 USD for today’s standards.

The United Kingdom and the USA passports are the most powerful passports according to the global passport index, but they have their share of pricing on the Darknet. According to this report, the UK passport ranked 5th most expensive, sells on the Darknet 3,500 USD. According to that same research, the USA passport ranked 13th most expensive at 2,000 USD. The low ball price for USA passport is under 1,000 USD.

Thailand is one of the several countries which have forged passwords being sold on the Darknet. Officials in Thailand dismantled passport counterfeiting operations in Thailand that were reported to be behind the production of 3,000 fake passports sold on the Darknet over the last five years. Two of these passports were issued to Iranians who were convicted of terrorism in Bangkok in 2012.

There was a recent investigation by the Italy’s Agency for Information and External Security, and found was a banal advertisement that provided Darknet genuine biometric passports with the ad saying:

We are selling original UK Passports made with your info/picture. Also, your info will get entered into the official passport database. So it’s possible to travel with our passports. How do we do it? Trade secret! Information on how to send us your info and picture will be given after purchase! You can even enter the UK/EU with our passports; we can just add a stamp for the country you are in. Ideal for people who want to work in the EU/UK is 2000 G or 4.113 Bitcoin.

Crime seems to increase on the dark web and so too is the production of counterfeit passports. However, for 5 EURO as is the case with Greek passports, can you really expect something of high-end quality, especially when the competitor darknet marketplace vendors are offering passports for thousands of dollars more? We shall see.

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